In an event that was hyped up on social media, Representative Haley Stevens, Michigan State House Representative Christine Grieg, and Michigan State House Representative Robert Wittenburg appealed for common sense gun reform to the un-pleasantries of MAGA hat-wearing troublemakers. Constituents, Indivisibles, and Moms Demand Action groups also attended, along with national media outlets like Reuters.
When Rep. Stevens shared a story about how one of her good friends is the Republican ranking member of the Commerce committee, the MAGA audience booed her. When Rep. Wittenburg tried to explain his red flag law legislation, they shouted him down. When Rep. Greig pointed out the need to work across the aisle, they hurled insults.
These people were not at that town hall in good faith. They were there to disrupt and yell at elected officials. The Representatives tried to engage with them early on. They took questions from the crowd even though that was not how the event was formatted. And in return for that civility, they were sworn at. These folks were not interested in talking about the finer points of gun legislation. They were there to make a scene. Is this really the example we want to set for our children? Those same children who are forced to do active shooter drills or buy bulletproof backpacks because you want an AK47.
These trolls called themselves “pro 2A voters” in a press release. But as Rep. Wittenburg noted, every amendment has restrictions. The 1st amendment is restricted. You cannot shout FIRE! In a crowded theater. The Heller decisions restricted the 2nd Amendment, and that was supported by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, not exactly a liberal stalwart. Of course, as soon as those “Pro 2A voters” heard that, they reacted dismissively. Facts seemed to be unimportant. They asked questions and did not like the answers they were given.
This event gave me so much pride in our elected Democratic officials. They did not come armed with guns, using wild emotion to intimidate. They came armed with facts, stories, and substantive information. Rep. Greig announced that there is a gun-related death in Michigan every 8 hours and that there are 1,138 guns deaths a year. Rep. Wittenburg brought up that President Trump and Senator Marco Rubio among others have been vocal supporters of red flag laws. It was in those moments that the MAGA crowd became quiet. Maybe if they took more moments like that, they would realize the folly of getting an angry mob to badger our Representatives.
In the most explosive moment of the night, Rep. Stevens showed why she was able to win in 2018. In the face of the very people who are campaigning against her, she stood by her principles. She declared that the NRA must be defeated. In response, the instigators thought chanting “USA!” was a good defense, but they do not understand that they do not have a monopoly on patriotism. We chanted “USA!” along with them. Rep. Wittenburg noted that the NRA no longer cares for the interests of gun owners, but are only serving gun manufacturers.
Rep. Grieg encapsulated the event with an amazing speech near the end about how we are better than this. We should not have to yell at each other about important issues. We should be able to find common ground to work together. There are common sense solutions to gun violence, but the other side must show they are willing to listen. They were not willing at this event.
As a member of Indivisible, I have given aides of my members of Congress, especially the Senators, a hard time on issues where we disagree. But it has never ever turned into the circus I witnessed today. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. Acting like children does not give you want you want. Compromise does. And that is what our reps are doing in this debate. They are reaching across the aisle with people they disagree with to get the job done and better serve Michigan. It is not about scoring political points, but about improving the lives of all Michiganders.
This event is both a reminder that nothing is guaranteed in 2020 and a great motivator to ensure that our great Representatives like Haley Stevens get re-elected. It was no fluke. It took hard work. And in 2020, we must create the Blue Wave again. We will do it by protecting our frontliners, like Rep. Haley Stevens and our House majority. We must protect our Senator – Gary Peters – and work to flip the Senate and presidency.
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